Dear Baylor Family:
Last week the Baylor University Board of Regents held its quarterly meeting, which included an orientation for seven new Regents, a new committee structure and implementation of a comprehensive slate of governance reforms aimed at making our University even better. It was also the first meeting for both of us in our new roles, as Baylor's Chairman of the Board and as University President.
Following the meeting on Friday, you should have received an email that summarized the actions taken by the Board. We would like to take this opportunity to provide some additional information and context from the Board meeting, particularly relating to the various reports and presentations that took place during the four days the Regents were in Waco. These discussions centered around the following subject areas:
- Strategic Planning: We are entering the final year of the first five-year phase of Pro Futuris: A Strategic Vision for Baylor University. Despite the many transitions and challenges the University has faced in recent years, our strategic vision remains as relevant and vibrant today as it was when launched in 2012. Phase II of Pro Futuris (FY2018-22) will incorporate a comprehensive academic strategy to further our Tier One aspirations while strengthening our Christian commitment. This will put Baylor in a unique position in all of higher education. The Board expressed enthusiasm regarding the strategic planning process and looks forward to working with the Executive Council to engage faculty, staff and students over the coming months as we determine priorities related to academics, facilities and fundraising, as well as develop a budget model to support our goals.
- Diversity: The Board has made a strong commitment to diversifying its membership, as evidenced by the new Regents participating in their first meeting last week and the appointment of an independent Regent Selection Task Force. As part of ongoing discussions relating to this important subject, the Board and Executive Council heard from a panel of diverse faculty, staff and students about their experiences at Baylor. They shared a wide range of stories and expressed emotions from pain to joy regarding their time at Baylor. In concert with the Executive Council, the Board has affirmed the need to continue enhancing the diversity and climate of our campus, and we are anticipating the results of the campus climate survey later this fall, which will guide our priorities and specific action items.
- Investigations and Reviews: We continue to extend our full cooperation with the various external entities that are investigating our response related to past incidents of sexual violence within Baylor's campus community. We are nearing completion of the external audit of the structural completion of the 105 recommendations, which we will make public as we turn over the documentation to the Big 12 Conference. We anticipate the Big 12's verification process and the review by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) to conclude either this fall or early next year; other investigations and reviews could take in excess of 18 months. Be assured that Baylor is incredibly strong and resilient, and we will move forward while the investigations are ongoing. We pledge to continue learning throughout these processes while redoubling our efforts to enhance student safety, health and wellbeing. It is our hope that Baylor's efforts will be helpful to other colleges and universities in avoiding similar circumstances and dealing with the scourge of sexual violence that impacts all facets of today's society.
- Governance: As mentioned earlier, last week marked the first Regents meeting under the new governance reforms that we approved in February. In addition to a new committee structure that will allow more strategic oversight, the Board has committed to expanded representation and decision-making. As evidence, five of the seven new Regents are women, and the Board created another alumni-elected Regent position. The Board has added another faculty Regent, with both members now having voting privileges, and one of our two student Regents will have a vote beginning next year. The Board also participated in a comprehensive self-assessment and training process through the Association of Governing Boards, with the goal of strengthening shared governance, enhancing communication and basing operations on best practices.
- Restoring Trust: The Board recognizes the need for continued healing within the Baylor Family, as result of the challenges endured over the past 18 months. As we visit with and listen to our alumni, faculty, staff and students, some are angry that we went too far and damaged the careers of Baylor people, while others are sad and angry that we should have done more. In both cases, the Regents understand that we must work to regain the trust and confidence of the Baylor Family. Despite these differences, what binds us all together is an undying passion and deep sense of love for Baylor, as well as a strong desire for the University to achieve its fullest potential. We recognize that restoring trust takes time and is a culmination of doing the things that we said we would do. Ultimately, our goal is to unify the Baylor Family through open communication and transparency, because we truly are a family. We are in the initial planning stages of a conversation tour beginning this fall on campus, across Texas, in key cities nationwide and online, which will allow us to continue listening, answering your questions and earning your trust.
We thank you for your ongoing support and dedication to this University that we both love so dearly. Let us never lose sight of our mission: "To educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community."
Joel T. Allison
Chairman of the Board
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.